Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, the Republican frontrunner for the 2016 presidential election, has found himself in heated controversy over his administration’s closing of two lanes on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge. The consequences that resulted from this shutdown were graver than those of a regular traffic jam. For days, commuters, school buses, and emergency vehicles sat in a gridlock, trying to merge into the open roadway in order to make it across the bridge.
The aforementioned vehicular congestion had grim repercussions. This traffic impeded the search for a missing four-year old boy who the police struggled to find due to their inability to pass the bridge. The child was eventually found; however, police officials concluded that the search ventured longer than anticipated due to the roadway conditions. Stories of emergency vehicles failing to reach 911 callers circulated throughout the media. Florence Genova, a ninety-one year old from Fort Lee, died before ambulances could make it to her house. What was intended to be a two to three minute drive took approximately seven minutes.
These unfortunate and certainly avoidable scenarios are believed by many to be politically motivated. There has been a longstanding feud between Fort Lee’s Democratic Mayor and the Christie administration. It is alleged that after a dispute over New Jersey Supreme Court nominees, Christie’s deputy chief of staff ordered the bridge lanes to be closed. This created massive traffic james in Fort Lee, possibly in hopes of staining the mayor’s political career and achieving revenge. Governor Christie claims to have not had any involvement in the bridge predicament and has placed the blame on his staff members. His office has been subpoenaed and investigators have found messages that were sent by his staff members regarding their political vindictiveness. Texts and emails between Christie’s associates both contradict some of the claims that Christie has made about the closing of the bridge lanes and reflect the glee that his staff felt regarding the havoc.
As investigators continue to look into this traffic scandal, many media correspondents and perplexed voters are wondering if “Bridge-Gate” marks the end of the governor’s presidential pathway. Nationwide surveys indicate that Christie’s popularity amongst voters has dropped significantly. Although the governor took his oath of office for his second term on January 21, Americans are now watching his political agenda with caution.